PP’s president, Mariano Rajoy, and PSOE’s general secretary, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba.
Cristina de la Hoz. Madrid.
When on 25 May around 10 p.m. the counting of the European elections is made public, the Government and the People’s Party, on one hand, and the PSOE, on the other one, will have to start making a series of decisions in internal politics code setting the rest of the legislature. They have in their favour the fact that, after predicting a fall in votes and Euro seats, polls give the Executive of Mariano Rajoy a break and allow some relief to Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, not because his continuity in front of the PSOE is guaranteed, but because an organized transition process is possible without the party’s structures exploding.
These are the first elections in the national polls since the 20-N general elections in 2011, in a single constituency, therefore, without the distortions of the distribution of remainders. All things considered, an almost pure proportional system that will allow to test the health of the Executive as well as the PSOE’s, which does not seem to finish touching ground, without forgetting about another element making of these European elections something unique: the hope of the pro-independence campaigners to turn the elections into primary elections for their pro-secession referendum.
The PP will face the need to adopt not very “Popular” new measures
Apparently, the Moncloa’s tenant has no reasons to face next Sunday with any fear if data from the polls is confirmed, data which positions him above the 20 seats as the winning party. It is easy to anticipate the arguments that Génova will be offering that night: Spanish have trusted again the only party they believe that can take them out of the crisis and face the future with guarantees of success. Because that is, precisely, the weakness of the Executive’s leader, the need of a new boost to face what is left of the legislature; authenticate his policy of adjustments and cutbacks; affirming the civic support.
Maybe from the economic point of view, the most unpopular measures have already been taken. There is an adjustment ahead of 3,000 million euros that could be tackled without big consequences and a promised reduction in taxes, personal income tax and companies fundamentally, which will coincide with the coming general election after years of suffocation for the taxpayer. However, the recovery will be really weak until 2017 and unemployment, a real Achilles heel of the economy in our country, will still be above 20 per cent until that year. The creation of 600,000 jobs has been promised between 2014 and 2015. From the Department directed by Fátima Báñez they assure that they have even been conservative in their estimates.
If these elections are good for Moncloa and the creation of employment keeps resisting, up to the point of putting at risk the commitment guaranteeing the legislature will end with less unemployment than when it started, the possibility of adding further pressure to reduce the working costs even more cannot be ruled out. They will always be able to raise the legitimacy that having the support from the citizens provides in a European campaign marked by the speech of the national policy, as it has always been, on the other hand.
Apart from the economy, there is another matter waiting for better times to come while kept in the drawer: the reform of the Abortion Law. Those better times can come hand in hand with a good result at the 25-M. The objective would be trying to carry it out before summer, since after the holidays the territorial chiefs of the PP start their run-up to the election campaign facing the autonomous and local elections taking place within a year and they do not want that polemical reform to interfere with their political agenda, although starting in September this will be marked by the socialist primary elections and the pro-independence referendum of Catalonia.
Another thing is that there is time to pass Gallardón’s reform in the middle of the midsummer heat. They are still waiting for the compulsory reports from the General Council of the Judiciary –with two opposing proposals, one of them progressive and the other one conservative—and the Ministry of Finance. Only after their pronouncement and the incorporation of their suggestions, if Justice considers it to be convenient, will they send it to the Council of State. There it would be sent to Miguel Rodríguez Piñero, who was president of the Constitutional Court between 1992 and 1995, during the Government of Felipe González. However, the ones thinking that it is better to completely forget about this polemical reform are not missing in the Government and in the PP.
In case of a disaster, socialists would be heading for an extraordinary Congress
Whereas the Government needs a new injection of civic legitimacy, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba defends that there is no match to play yet to try not to lose the 25-M or not to lose by a great deal. If he does not win, a technical draw would help him to save the situation without rushing a process that has to end in November with the primary elections in the French style to choose the candidate for the presidency of the Government. The last pre-election survey of the Centre for Sociological Research (CIS in its Spanish acronym) talked about a distance of 2.7 points in favour of the PP. The big ones would drop in relation to 2009, PSOE much more than PP, but nothing that cannot be defended with a good speech.
If Rajoy has to counteract the exhaustion of a really long legislature, the PSOE is still mending the pieces of its historical disaster, first in the Communities and the city councils, and then in the nation’s Government. Besides, their European partners did not make the speech facing these European elections any easy for them. How to attack Angela Merkel if she is governing in alliance with the SPD? How can you defend the final judgement of the French head of Government, Manuel Valls, when the first thing he has done is to set the basis for a cutback of 50,000 million euros? Valls will participate in a PSOE’s event supporting Elena Valenciano next 21 May, whereas the PP has chosen to leave the “brother parties” at home, with the only exception of Jean-Claude Juncker, the candidate for the EPP to the presidency of the Commission, which causes a great enthusiasm perfectly describable in the PP’s files.
In case of a socialist disaster at the polls, it would be impossible to restrain the debate on Rubalcaba’s continuity and the facts would rush, not towards primary elections, but towards an extraordinary congress, scenery that the most powerful territorial leader of the PSOE, the Andalusian Susana Díaz, prefers. It is always easier to “monitor” a congressional meeting than a process with an uncertain result open to sympathizers that generates doubts even among some of the possible candidates. On the other hand, there is no unanimity concerning what the current socialist leader wants. Everything depends on whether Elena Valenciano wins the European elections or not, scenery where Rubalcaba could play with the idea of taking part in the primary elections, but, for that, they would first try to guarantee the victory and that seems to be impossible.
Catalan pro-independence campaigners are risking the survival of their challenge
The third photography of these elections is focusing on Artur Mas’s pro-independence bet, which conditions the national political debate for the biggest challenge the State has had to face. The Generalitat’s (the catalan autonomous governement) intention is to lead the constitutional campaigners in Catalonia by votes and get their strength across in front of the European institutions. The survival of the challenge will be risked to a large extent on 25-M, given that it is going to be used as a legitimizing element of the separatist referendum called for 9 November.
There can be no doubt that the 25-M can be useful to clear the political scene from now up to the end of the legislature or to make a mess just when the first signs of an economic recovery for which there is still a long way to go start to show.